Staff Sergeant Delbert O. Jennings was an Army NCO whose bravery during a pitched battle at LZ (Landing Zone) Bird in South Vietnam on December 27, 1966, would result in him being awarded the Medal of Honor. 

Jennings was born in Silver City, New Mexico in July of 1936. He joined the Army in San Francisco in 1956. Ten years later, Jennings was a Staff Sergeant in Company C, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Division. His unit was assigned to LZ Bird, a forward artillery base that provided fire support for the Cavalry in the Kim Son Valley. 

The base was small, only about 250 meters long and 80 meters wide, and was bordered by the Kim Son River. Jennings was part of an undermanned weapons platoon, with only 22 troops, some of whom were green replacements. They were supposed to defend the northern sector of the perimeter. 

The firebase had a dozen 155mm howitzers on the northern perimeter and 105mm howitzers along the southern edge. Along with the weapons platoon were grunts from C Co., 1st Bn., 12th Inf. Regt., 1st Air Cav Division. The total American force consisted of less than 200 soldiers. 

Despite both sides declaring a truce on Christmas 1966, the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) was moving to eliminate the base and those troops in it. Just after midnight on December 27, two battalions of the NVA’s 22nd Regiment were infiltrating close to the base’s wire. They were well-trained, motivated, and backed by local Viet Cong (VC) insurgents. They totaled over 1,000 troops. 

Shortly after 1 a.m., the NVA began hitting LZ Bird with concentrated mortar, 57mm recoilless rifle, and heavy machinegun fire. There were already about 40-50 NVA troops breaching the base’s perimeter. 

Because of prior planning, Jennings had placed stacks of grenade boxes in the bunkers in case of attack. As a pair of M-60 machineguns raked the attacking NVA, Jenning and SSG Colmar Johnson were organizing the defense. Jennings had the troops remove the grenades from the boxes. He then peppered the attacking NVA troops with a constant barrage of grenades. After daylight, they found a dozen NVA bodies in front of their positions. 

However, the NVA troops continued to push forward and are soon behind the Americans as their sappers try to blow the bunkers but many of their explosives didn’t detonate. Jennings killed three sappers who were attempting to destroy one of the 155mm howitzers. Jennings then ran through the heavy fire to warn the troops that the NVA were then behind them.